Skip to main content

Full text of "Alexander von Humboldt"

See other formats

ALEXANDER VON   HUMBOLDT.                135
planned a journey to Asia, and if possible, to East
India, with what  perseverance  and trouble lie had
prepared   himself for a journey to the little-known
districts of Central Asia.    He was then excited to it
by his favourite project of travelling to these unknown
territories,   over  Kashgar  or Persia.     He freely ac-
kno wledges, that this has always "been a favourite idea
of his, and if he speaks of it now, he declares that he
regrets nothing so  much  in his old age, than that
h^ did not then carry out that cherished project.  But
the preparatory studies for that plan were not lost to
science, for they gush  forth amply in this work on
Central Asia, and give it a serious  characteristic of
profoundness and great erudition.    After the * publi-
cation of the Asiatic fragments, in 1831, twelve years
elapsed,  during which he   collected a  multitude of
fresh materials, especially the communications received
from his correspondents in Russia, entrusted with the
comparative observations, and from the physical obser-
vatory of St. Petersburg.    The entire surface of the
Russian tei^ritories had  been, lying  open before his
mental perceptions for twelve years, and it is, therefore,
very   natural  that  Humboldt   preferred,   instead   of
preparing* the required second edition  of his Asiatic
fragments, to write an entirely new work, which might
include the considerably increased facts of his geolo-
gical experience.    Only he was able to conceive, and
to realize  such  a work, for, Whatever he, as  a single
individual, was not able to master, was gladly prepared
for him oil all sides by the disinterested and voluntary
assistance of the most profound scholars and oriental
linguists of the Chinese, Arabic, and old Indian Zend
dialects, and by celebrated naturalists, such as Klap-
roth,* Stanislaus Julien,-f   and   Eug&xe    BumoufJ
** Klaproth prepared new notes from Chinese sources.
4* Member of the Institute of France. He gave special physi-
cal andorographical (of mountains) explanations; and Humboldt
publicly declares that he feels himself honoured by Ms iH&radship,
| Ho made ethnographical and geological investigations on pas-
Rages in the 55end books for Humboldt's work, and Humboldt himself
calls his labours moat surprising.